While on my mission I can be contacted at ashley.lynch@myldsmail.net

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

I Love The Book of Mormon!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

There Is a Better Way

What a great week! I am loving Ohio with the changing leaves and the beauty helps me deal with how chilly it has been. Gotta love Ohio. Especially with the tornadoes. I don't think I have every been let out of church early, but this Sunday we had a tornado watch in our area and the Bishop instructed us all to go home. The Bishop's wife graciously invited us over and we had a wonderful evening with their family waiting out the storm. This has been my second tornado warning, fun stuff!

We have had some awesome experiences this week. First of all we are teaching a wonderful young man named Graham. He is good friends with a family in our ward and he has been attending church with them for over two months now. They have been working with him, sharing a lot and answering questions. He watched General Conference in their home and even bore his testimony a month ago! He is just amazing, and he told the Bevan's recently that he was ready to meet with us. He is so prepared and we have been blessed to have a few lessons with him. He loves the Book of Mormon, has such a sincere desire to learn and is on date to be baptized next month! We are so excited for him!

Another AWESOME thing. A few weeks ago a man in our ward was very excited to tell us that his friend David had accepted his invitation to come to church. Then the next week David came even though his friend wasn't there and he loved the Primary program! We have been able to talk to him when he comes and it turns out he is in our Area Book and missionaries have knocked on his door before. He seemed to be coming along nicely and his friend was very happy with his progress, then this Sunday he completely surprised us. It was fast and testimony meeting, and David went up and bore his testimony! He talked about the profound influence that members have had on him over the last 20 years and the wonderful experience coming to church has been for him. He also shared how those missionaries who knocked on his door left him with a Book of Mormon and that he ha read over half of it and has not found anything in it he does not already believe. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor when he was done. That new information not only came as a surprise to us, but also his member friend who will be asking him to start meeting with us soon. I could not be more excited!

I want to tell all of you how much I love being a missionary! My greatest joy comes from helping others change their lives for the better through the gospel of Jesus Christ and giving them tools to have an ever-growing relationship with their Savior. Knowing who my Savior is and how to worship through the restored gospel brings so much peace and direction and it is truly a blessing to share that. I know that my time as a full time missionary must come to an end someday, but I find solace knowing my service and ability to share the gospel can, should, and will carry on for the rest of my life. There is a quote I love from President Gordon B. Hinckley where he says, "So many of us look upon missionary work as simply tracting. Everyone who is familiar with this work knows there is a better way. That way is through the members of the Church. Whenever there is a member who introduces an investigator, there is an immediate support system. The member bears testimony of the truth of the work. He is anxious for the happiness of his investigator friend. He becomes excited as that friend makes progress in learning the gospel.” I want to add my testimony that this is true. Sister Holdaway and have been blessed here in Piqua to be surrounded by some wonderful members who understand that.

I hope you all have a wonderful week and share boldly what you know to be true! You never know just ho much it will mean to someone or who around you is being prepared.
Just keep smiling!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Simply An Instrument

IT IS COLD! These California girls are not ready for winter. Just kidding. We got all bundled up and we we're just fine. These Ohioans in just their sweatshirts probably laugh when they see those crazy girls in skirts and winter coats, but I don't care.

Cold Out

 I will start off with probably the most awkward experience I have had so far on my mission. It was so funny. Picture this....
We are finishing up knocking on this street before we have to go to a scheduled activity, so our time isn't super flexible. We knock on this door and the sweetest lady answers with a baby on her hip and I can just feel this is going to be a great contact. In the middle of us talking, before we have a chance to get to introducing ourselves and the point of why we knocked on her door, this lady from a pest control company comes up the walk. She was obviously there for an appointment, which being on the doorstep with someone else who is expected is already awkward enough. The woman who answered the door gave a general "come on in!" and I thought "surely she can't mean us, she doesn't even know who we are." But the exterminator said "after you!" and the owner of the home nodded so we came on in. The two of them immediately walked through the house, back to where I'm assuming the exterminator needed to come look at. Sister Holdaway and I stopped at the entryway and watched them walk away. We figured the woman would come back any minute after she showed her the problem, since she still didn't even know why the two strangers standing in her foyer knocked on her door. So we waited..........and waited........................ .and waited. The whole time we could see her husband walking back and forth in the hallway giving us sideways glances, probably trying to figure out who we were and he was moving too fast for us to ever call out to him. So we kept waiting. Finally it was way past time to go to our scheduled activity and she hadn't come back so we left a sticky note with a pass along card on the inside of her door and saw ourselves out. We ran down the street to our car, laughing the whole way at how we had awkwardly stood in that strangers foyer for upwards of 20 minutes. So so awkward haha.

On to some miracles!
First of all Ed is great! We have had a few more lessons with him and he has been reading the Book of Mormon consistently. He is so sweet and has such a sincere desire to know and understand truth. He has a long way to go, but because of that desire he has we are not worried. Recently we invited him to be baptized and his response was "Yes! That's actually something I have been thinking a lot about." How cool is that?! He had a few questions and concerns though, mainly about his prosthetic leg and the logistics of getting baptized. When we assured him he would have help and that nothing like that would keep him from being baptized he just lit up. I am so grateful we met him,  which is something he has also expressed multiple times. I am so excited for Ed!

Drum roll please....... Damian was baptized this Saturday! It was a wonderful, special, emotional, and inspiring day. His family has been waiting for this for years and he was so excited and prepared. He has made a lot of changes and done a lot of work to get here. I am truly grateful to have been a part of and a witness of this phase of his journey. Because it really has been a journey. It hasn't been easy for him, but it has been amazing to see him grow into the new Damian over the few months I have known him, he is inspiring to me. Watching the ordinances of his baptism and confirmation be performed reminded me of just how much bigger this work is than me. I am simply an instrument in God's grand orchestra and I am so grateful and humbled to have this opportunity. I love being a missionary!

Have a great week and Just keep smiling!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Faith: saying "I Will" Before "I Can"

This week has been great! We have definitely seen many miracles! The first of them being that we are still alive. Just kidding. We did have a funny/freaky experience the other night. There was this really cool house we went to the other day, but no one answered so we wanted to try back when we were in the area. Well it was dark, and we had to walk down the longest driveway I have ever seen through what is basically a little forest in their front yard. Kinda creepy. It got worse when we were walking and heard all these noises from the trees. After a long time of trying to figure out what it was we see this huge dark bird sitting on a branch. Then another...and another. There were TONS of them! so we ran to the house, no answer again. As we were walking back down their drive the birds got quiet, then all of a sudden they swept off the trees in huge groups! It was crazy scary. But we made it haha

In all seriousness though, we have seen tons of miracles. On Wednesday we set a goal of finding three new investigators, it felt right but I was a little skeptical because we had two meetings, service and all of our normal studies taking up most of our day. BUT the Lord always helps us with our righteous desires and helped us, in that limited time, find three and a half investigators! The half comes from a family that doesn't know they are investigating yet, but we are totally coming back because they are such a cute little family. We knocked on the door and this little girl, probably about 6 years old, pop up in the window. She stares us down for a good 7 seconds and then opens the door. I guess she thought we looked friendly enough, so she invited us in!  We asked if her parents were home and she said her mom was in the shower, and before we could say we would come back later she says "I'll go get her!" So we waited haha and could hear them yelling back and forth "who is it?" "I don't know." She ran back and just kept talking to us, despite our many attempts to tell her we would come back later, but we couldn't just leave her standing there with the door open. She actually came out on the porch with us and was just talking away! We finally convinced her to go back inside and shut the door. We were dying, I love kids. Thank goodness her judgement was right and we were nice people. We are definitely going back.

The other morning we felt impressed to go try and see this awesome girl we met a little while ago who has a crazy schedule and we are never able to set up lessons with. Well, as soon as we parked in front of her house she came out the door! And what was even better, she had a day this week we can meet! God definitely puts us exactly where we need to be if we are willing to listen.

Last one. We had a great lesson with one of our investigators the other night. He had some concerns with baptism in the past, not understanding why he would need to be baptized again. Well, before we even started teaching in our lesson, he was excited to tell us about what he had learned from his Book of Mormon reading. He is reading 2 Nephi 31, and he gets it! He understands why it is important, that it is a commandment from God and a way we can follow the example of our Savior. He even asked us how soon he could be baptized! He definitely has a long way to go, but he has that desire now and got it from reading the scriptures!

I wanted to leave you with a thought from New Missionary Follow Up Training (which was a blast!) First off, I can't believe Sister Holdaway has been here for a month! Crazy stuff. Anyways, the training was really focused on faith and something that the spirit taught me was that faith is being able to say "I will" before "I can." There will be many times in our lives when we will be asked to do something and we won't know if we can do it based on our own knowledge or abilities, but we can exercise our faith by saying that we will do it anyways and trust that we can with the Lord's help. That is something I am learning a great deal about, and trying to put into practice more and more everyday. I am by no means perfect, but I am grateful that my Savior is and will give me strength to do all things. It is only through faith in Him and a willingness to act that we have been able to see miracles like these.

I hope you have a wonderful week, just keep smiling!
Our Districts new mascot

Monday, October 16, 2017

Let Your Father Take the Lead

This week has been fantastic! We have seen miracles, met many awesome people and got to do service! We helped the Cabes chop up and move out cut trees in their little woods to prepare for the ward Halloween party! It was a blast, and Sister Holdaway even made a new friend.

 President Hinckley's counsel of "forget yourself and go to work" is completely true. We have been so busy and working so hard this week, and we have definitely seen miracles because of it. We have been in one of those cycling through times where the work just doesn't seem to be moving forward even though we are putting so much effort in, and that's really hard to face. BUT we are beginning to see the fruits of our efforts. We have found so many new people to teach and some of them are truly progressing! It is only the beginning of their journey, but they are making changes in their live and we have faith! That is by far my favorite part of being a missionary, helping people make changes in their lives so they can feel the joy of living the gospel. It is truly an amazing sight to see and humbling to be a part of.

Like I said, we have been finding so many awesome new people, ready to hear the gospel! The Lord definitely leads us where we need to be. On Saturday alone we met three people who actually wanted to listen to us. But even more than that, they asked us to tell them more so we did. We had fantastic lessons with them right there on their porches. I don't think I have ever seen people so grateful to receive the Book of Mormon. They understood that the unique message we share is how they can come closer to their Heavenly Father and know their Savior more fully. I love being the bearer of this significant message!

 Another amazing experience is Lorenzo, because he found us! He had met with missionaries in the past, and randomly one day he calls us out of the blue and says "Sisters! When are you coming back?" We made an appointment with him and looked up who he was later. He is now reading the Book of Mormon and progressing, slowly but surely, in the gospel!

Probably my favorite miracle from this week was Ed. We met him briefly about a week ago, and it was a bad time so we made an appointment to come back. We didn't feel like it was a very solid appointment, but he was there! and we had a great lesson with him. Yesterday morning we texted him to remind about church, and he let us know he would come except for he didn't have a ride. We had no trouble finding him one and he came for all three hours of church! He was all prepared and brought his Book of Mormon with him. Our ward was wonderful, and welcoming and he had a great time. He made mention to us at one point that he hadn't seen the inside of a church in 30 years! We then realized that Ed coming to church was more a miracle than we had originally thought. It made my day to see him open up and see him smiling and simply full of light after having come to church. This is why I am here.

I would like to leave you with a profound message that President Stratford shared with us at our Zone Conference this week. We talked about the many things we might have sacrificed to come out on a mission: time, money, family, education. And the list went on. We then discussed how when Christ came he did away with blood sacrifices and then only required a broken heart and a contrite spirit from his people. That broken heart is our willingness to submit to God's will. Everything that we have is our Father in Heaven's, the only thing that is truly ours to give him is our will. There are many things we face in life that we feel we are having to sacrifice for, especially when we are choosing to do the right things. But the only real sacrifice, or offering, that we can give our Father is submitting our will to be obedient and to have faith and optimism through the things we face. Our lives are a lot happier and successful when we give ourselves over and let our omniscient Father take the lead.

Have a great week! Just keep smiling!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Greatest Gift

This week has been full of meeting new people, like always! Like always, a lot of them don't want to talk to us but that's ok! It has been funny since it gets darker earlier, many people think we are crazy for being "out so late." It has been even better since the past couple nights it has been pouring. The best one this week is when we knocked on this woman's door and she answered sort of frazzled and said "why you gotta scare people like that?!" We looked at our watches, "Ma'am, it's only 8 o'clock." We also got some looks as we spent an afternoon biking between the houses on a long country road with some crazy wind. The elements do not stop missionary work! We have been getting some good laughs lately. Among all the people who think we are crazy, simply aren't interested, or who are trying to convert us (that has actually happened a lot lately), we do have some pretty awesome contacts.

Last night was especially awesome. We knocked on the door and this man opened. We introduced ourselves and he was nice. We had a great conversation about prayer and started to teach him our unique message of the restoration. He was asking us a lot of questions and seemed a bit confrontational, but as we talked to him more we realized he was actually genuinely interested in our answers of how we know these things to be true. He expressed not knowing what to believe and we testified of the truthfulness of our message and told him that if he prayed about these things he would gain a witness from the Holy Ghost as we have. At this point he was tearing up, and we tried to set up a time but he said he would like to read the pamphlet first and we could come back and share more. He quickly went inside, and even though we didn't get to share our whole message I know something touched him. We will be back real soon!

I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost, that he guides, helps us come closer to our Father in Heaven and teaches us truth. When people don't want to listen, or even tell us that what we are sharing is false, we can always rely on our solid and unfailing witness that these things are truth. And it is that same power that allows people we meet to feel the truthfulness of our message within a few minutes, despite our only average personal abilities. Our Heavenly Father will not leave us alone. When we have a question, He will answer. He will grant us with the evidence we need to have stability in this life and direction we need on the course back to Him. His spirit is one of the greatest gifts he has ever given us.
Continue to seek this guidance in your life!
I love you all, just keep smiling! 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Miracle of Being a Child of God

District Activity

 This week was fantastic and full of miracles! But that is to be expected right? :)
The week started with meeting this awesome girl. First of all, she lives in a home that I have tried a lot in the past, not many seemed too particularly interested and those who did we were never able to contact. So personally I would not have tried because I figured I knew what was going to be the result, but my wonderful companion with no preconceived notions of our area felt the need to try that house. So we did, and we had an incredible experience! We met someone in the household I had never seen before and were able to teach her the whole first lesson. She was very engaged and was just taking everything in! At one point I asked her what it would mean to her to know that the Restoration was true and her response was, "Well, I already believe you." I was shocked for a second, but we excitedly told her about the Book of Mormon and invited her to read and pray so she can gave a spiritual confirmation that these things are true. She just recently got a new job and texted us letting us know that the appointment we scheduled wasn't going to work, followed by "I'll keep reading a few pages of the Book of Mormon every night though." She is just the sweetest and the faith that she is demonstrating is incredible! I am excited to help her come even closer to Christ!

Something we realized this week is that Piqua needs more street lights! One evening when it was dark, we were trying a few houses in a neighborhood that isn't my favorite place to be at night. We received a spiritual prompting to leave that area after we knock on this last house. I figured at first that the prompting was for our safety, and it may have been, but it may have been in for us to meet the awesome people waiting for us in the neighborhood we felt prompted to go to.

Last week we met a sweet older man briefly at his door. The other day when we were in that area Sister Holdaway felt that we should go back. Well his wife answered the door, who is the sweetest lady ever, and invited us in. We had a great conversation about miracles she has seen in her life and hard times now that the Lord is helping her get through. At one point in the conversation she mentioned how normally at this day and time she would be driving with her husband to an appointment, but he went by himself today because a maintenance man was coming to her home. I know that it was no coincidence that we felt the need to knock on her door at that day and time.

Like other times, we have seen this week just how much God sustains our goals. We had a goal one day this last week to have five lessons. Well, we were able to have two lessons in the morning on people's doorstep, and we were feeling good because we had three lessons actually scheduled in the afternoon. All of them fell through, and our most promising backups weren't home. But the Lord always provides. Within the last hour of our time proselyting for the evening, we were able to have those three lessons on people's doorsteps.  Heavenly Father is so aware of our needs, and even with something that seems so insignificant as a daily goal, He helps us meet those needs.

This weekend we had the wonderful opportunity to hear from the Lord's chosen servants in General Conference, and it was another witness to me that the Lord is so aware of our individual needs and questions.  Even though there were only a few speakers compared to the number of listeners, there is an individual message and instruction for each of us in those inspired messages. We may experience miracles in our everyday lives, but like was said in conference this weekend, the miracle that we all experience is being children of God. I would encourage you all to ponder over the words that were given to us this weekend by our loving Heavenly Father.

I love you all! Just keep smiling!